Based on Portuguese tiles called azulejos, Azul is an ancient tile-placement board game, in which players compete for the highest score by claiming tiles and arranging them on their board to score points.
Extra points are on offer for collecting sets of the same colour of tile, or for creating particular patterns, while there are penalties for taking tiles that you’re unable to use.
Players take the roles of tile-laying artists tasked with the mandate of embellishing the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora.
Even though Azul came into existence several years ago, the one being played and enjoyed by people all over the world today was designed and released by Michael Kiesling in 2017.
The game of Azul is set and designed based on azulejos — a type of Portuguese tiles. It’s played by arranging ceramic tiles to form beautiful and complicated patterns on a 5×5 board. It is said to have originated from the old Alhambra palace in Southern Spain.
Azul board game has a theme like many other board games. However, it’s not too big on this theme. Instead, the game tries to create a balance between an idea and giving players an excellent gaming experience.
The Azul board game tries to put you against your friends to see who builds the most complicated pattern and most completed tile wall before it’s all over. The more complicated the pattern formed and the more completed the tile wall is, the higher the points earned. Needless to say, it’s the player with the highest scores, at the end of the game, who wins.
For setup, each player begins by picking out their player board. Then the cardboard discs which serve as the factory or bins are arranged on the table.
Once all the bins are arranged, the tiles are correctly shuffled inside the linen bag. Once you are all satisfied with shuffling, you bring the tiles out of the linen bag and place them on the bins. Five tiles on each bin at a time.
As soon all these are in place and once it has been decided who the first player would be, you’re ready to play Azul.
How to Play
At your turn, you may pick any colour of tile from the factory or bin and place it strategically on your player board. You will keep picking the same colour every time it’s your turn and placing it on your player board until you have formed a row of 5 tiles of the same colour. All the players would do the same until there are no tiles left on the bins.
Once the tiles have been exhausted, that round is over. Each player can build their tile walls before the bins are refilled for another round.
To build your tile wall, pick one tile, and draft it to the board’s centre. Ensure you are placing it on a spot that has the same mosaic design. Be sure to use tiles of the same design for each row of the tile wall you are building. You’ll get extra points when you build rows and columns with tiles of the same colour.
If you decide to drop a tile at any point while building your design, it would be considered that you have broken that tile, and you would lose points.
How to Win
The only way to win an Azul game is to build the most specific and complicated designs and have the most completed sets. That way, you’ll be the player with the highest point when the game comes to an end, thereby securing your victory as the most excellent artisan.
Azul takes board gaming to a whole different level. The concept may be abstract, but the game itself is fascinating and fulfilling. You’ll need to have a depth of thinking at all times and properly plan and execute your every move strategically if you wish to be the best artisan in the game.